Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry
This Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry is quick and easy to make on any given weeknight and full of the BEST savory, spicy and sweet flavors! Tender lamb strips, shredded Welsh onion and fragrant aromatics get tossed in a tantalizing sauce that will tingle your tastebuds!
Mongolian lamb stir-fry is an Australian classic Chinese takeout dish that boasts tender, velvety lamb strips and a savory-sweet sauce with fragrant and warming five spice flavors. It normally comes out on a sizzling plate if you eat it at a restaurant!
It’s not an authentic Chinese dish that you’ll find in restaurants in China. Nor is it a popular dish that everyone knows of in Mongolia. However, one thing for sure is that it is DELICIOUS!
My version strays a little from the Chinese restaurant version you’ll find in Australia. I’ve used Welsh onion (more about it later below) instead of onion or spring onion for the stir-fry. While still a savory-sweet dish, I’ve made it extra spicy with the addition of both fresh and dried red chilies! Instead of five spice, I’ve also used just cinnamon, cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes to perfume the sauce.
Why you’ll love it?
We have incredibly tender lamb strips, sweet and mellow shredded Welsh onion, fragrant aromatics like garlic, ginger, fresh and dried chilies, and a perfectly balanced savory and spicy-sweet sauce with toasted sesame aromas and warmth from cinnamon and cumin coating everything!
It’s also easy and simple to make on any given weeknight in just 30 minutes and no overnight marinating time or baking soda to tenderize the meat is needed. Yet, the lamb still becomes incredibly tender and juicy once stir-fried. I think you’ll be coming back for seconds!
Why This Recipe Works
- DELICIOUS flavors! Using lamb tenderloin means that there isn’t a too strong lamb flavor. It pairs perfectly with the sweet and mellow flavors of Welsh onion and also the garlic, ginger, and chilies. The lamb also also takes on the flavors of the mouthwatering savory-sweet sauce beautifully.
- Short marinating time. Using a super tender cut of lamb, the tenderloin, allows us to get away with a short marinating time and still yield tender and moist pieces of lamb once cooked.
- Thinly slicing the lamb allows it to cook quickly. Keeping things constantly moving in the wok ensures that nothing burns and everything cooks evenly.
- SO GOOD with steamed rice! All you need is a bowl of steamed rice and a side of stir-fried or steamed veggies to make this a better-than-takeout Chinese meal at home!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutes
- Lamb: I used lamb tenderloins (fillets), which are boneless and skinless. It’s a lean and tender cut that comes from below the ribs of the lamb. You could also use lamb backstrap (also known as back loin or eye of loin) which is also a very tender cut of meat that runs along the spine of the lamb. Both cuts are pricier than lamb rump or leg. However, they are both leaner, which makes them easier and quicker to clean as well as quicker to slice and cook than other economical cuts. While you can use lamb leg or rump if you like, note that it will take extra time to trim off the fat and sinew. The meat also won’t be as tender unless you add baking soda to marinade and marinate for a longer duration.
- Lamb Marinade: To tenderize and flavor the meat, the sliced lamb is marinated with low sodium light soy sauce , dark soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, potato starch and sesame oil. Dark soy sauce is used for color mainly and can be substitute with more low sodium light soy sauce if you don’t have it on hand. Shao Xing rice wine is a Chinese cooking wine with a floral aroma. Substitute with dry sherry if unavailable. Like corn starch, potato starch is commonly used in marinades to create a thin coating around the meat to keep the inside tender. The coating also protects it from burning when cooking at high temperatures. Substitute with corn starch instead if that’s what you have on hand.
- Welsh Onion: A type of large green onion that is similar in appearance to Western leeks. It’s also known as Tokyo or Japanese negi, bunching onion, green onion, and spring onion. There’s more white stem part than the typical scallion or green onion that is sold in the United States. Both the white stem part and top green part become sweet and tender when stir-fried. Look for it an Asian supermarket. Substitute with the white part of a Western leek if you can’t find it.
- Fresh Bird’s Eye Red Chilies: Or you can use any other small hot fresh red chilies that are easily available to you. Omit completely or use less for a milder dish.
- Dried Red Chilies: Feel free to use any type of medium to hot Chinese or Thai dried red chilies. Use less or more based on your heat level preference and the heat level of the dried chilies you’re using. Thai Jinda dried chilies, which is what I used here, are quite spicy. Since Thai dried chilies tend to be hotter than most Chinese dried chilies, you’ll likely need to use less. If you’re averse to spicy foods, omit them completely.
- Peanut Oil: Or use any neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point.
- Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce: Low sodium so that we can control the salt level better.
- Chinkiang Vinegar: This is a Chinese black vinegar available in Asian grocery stores. It has a deep and savory tangy flavor with sweet undertones. It’s used in Sichuan dishes like kung pao chicken, chicken in vinegar sauce (cu liu ji), and yu xiang chicken (shredded chicken in hot garlic sauce). In a pinch, substitute with half distilled white vinegar and half balsamic vinegar to yield a similar flavor.
- Hoisin Sauce: This is a thick sauce with a dark brown reddish tint. It has a savory-sweet flavor profile and is umami loaded! Typically, it’s made with fermented soybeans, spices, garlic, salted red chili peppers, dried sweet potatoes, and sugar. I prefer to use Lee Kum Kee brand, but any good quality hoisin sauce will work.
- Pure Chili Oil (optional): This is a Chinese chili oil without any flakes/seeds. You can use a Japanese chili oil (La-yu) instead. If you’re after a milder dish, use less or omit completely.
- White Sugar: Just a pinch to balance out the savory and spicy flavors. Feel free to add more to taste if needed.
- Kosher Salt: Use half the amount if using iodized table salt.
- Spices: Typically, you’ll find five spice powder being used in Mongolian lamb recipes. Five spice powder is a blend of five or more spices – cloves, cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan red peppercorns and fennel seeds. However, I prefer to use ground cinnamon, ground cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes instead for the stir-fry sauce.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry
1. Cook the marinated lamb. Use a large wok or heavy bottomed frying pan. Sear in a bit of oil briefly over high heat, then stir-fry until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a clean bowl.
2. Sauté the garlic and ginger until fragrant.
3. Add the fresh and dried red chilies. Stir-fry briefly to combine.
4. Add the Welsh onion. Stir-fry to combine, but don’t let it wilt too much at this point.
5. Add the lamb and sauce. Make sure to add all the lamb juices in the bowl too. That is FLAVOR! Stir-fry for a minute or so until the sauce thickens and coats everything well.
Serve! Transfer to a serving plate or dish. Sprinkle with toasted white sesame seeds and spring onion and serve immediately with warm steamed rice!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Mise en place. As with almost all stir-fries, this Mongolian lamb stir-fry is ready very quickly. It’s best to have everything prepped and by the side of your wok before you start cooking.
- Use a large wok or heavy bottomed deep skillet. Nothing beats the signature wok hei (breath of the wok) that infuses food cooked in a cast iron or carbon steel wok over high heat. However, a large heavy bottomed deep skillet will work well too for stir-fries such as this one.
- Freeze the meat to make slicing it thinly easier and quicker. Place in the fridge 20 minutes before you slice so that the lamb is semi frozen and firm. This will make it easier to finely slice into strips.
- Adjust spice level to taste. Use less of (or omit completely) the fresh and dried red chilies, crushed red pepper flakes and chili oil for a milder dish.
Lamb tenderloin (or fillets) are the two strips of tender meat below the loin and behind the ribs. Backstrap is a cut of meat that that runs along the top of the spine of the lamb. Both are incredibly tender cuts and therefore pricier than most other lamb cuts.
This recipe as written is spicy. However, you can use less of or leave out the spicy ingredients (fresh and dried chilies, chili oil and crushed red pepper flakes) to make this dish milder.
Warm steamed white or brown rice, egg or rice noodles, and a side of stir-fried or steamed broccoli or Asian greens such as bok choy, choy sum, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), snow peas can be served on the side.
More Chinese Stir-fry Recipes
- Hoisin Chicken Stir-fry with Tofu
- Authentic Kung Pao Chicken
- Chicken in Vinegar Sauce (Sichuan Cu Liu Ji)
- Yu Xiang Chicken (Sichuan shredded chicken with hot garlic sauce)
- XO Sauce Chicken & Chinese Broccoli Stir-fry
- Braised Tofu and Pork with Pickled Chilies
- Or browse the entire Chinese and Stir-fry recipes collections.
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Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry
Tender lamb strips, shredded Welsh onion and fragrant aromatics get tossed in a tantalizing savory-sweet sauce in this quick & easy 30 minute Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry!
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 10
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stir-fry
- Cuisine: Chinese
For the Lamb Marinade:
- 400 grams / 14 ounces Lamb Tenderloins, boneless, skinless (or backstrap – note 1) – thinly sliced into strips
- 1 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
- ½ TSP Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 TBLS Shao Xing Rice Wine
- ¼ TSP ground White Pepper
- 1.5 TSP Potato Starch (or Corn Starch)
- ½ TSP Sesame Oil
For the Sauce:
- ½ TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
- ½ TBLS Shao Xing Rice Wine
- ½ TBLS Chinkiang Vinegar (Chinese black vinegar – note 2)
- ½ TBLS Hoisin Sauce
- 1 TSP Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 TSP Sesame Oil
- 1 TSP Pure Chili Oil (optional – without flakes/seeds)
- 1/2 TSP White Sugar
- 1/8 TSP Kosher Salt
- 1/8 TSP Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ TSP ground Cumin
- ¼ TSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 60ml / ¼ cup Water
For the Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry:
- 1 medium Welsh Onion (or the white part of a leek – note 3) – finely sliced into 3.5-inch shreds
- 5 Garlic cloves – minced
- 1 TBLS minced Ginger
- 2 – 8 fresh Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any small hot red chilies), to taste – finely chopped
- 2 – 10 Dried Red Chilies (note 4), to taste – stems removed, snipped into ½-inch pieces
- 3 TBLS Peanut Oil (or any neutral oil with a high smoke point)
- Toasted White Sesame Seeds
- Spring Onion (Scallion/Green Onion – dark green parts only) – chopped
- Warm Steamed Rice
- Marinate the lamb: Pat-dry the lamb tenderloin fillets. Trim off excess fat and remove any sinew. Thinly slice into strips and add to a medium bowl, followed by the low sodium light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, ground white pepper, potato starch and sesame oil. Mix well to combine and set aside for 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Make the sauce: Whisk together the low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar, hoisin sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, pure chili oil (if using), white sugar, kosher salt, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, crushed red pepper flakes and water in a small measuring cup (for easier pouring) or bowl.
- Prepare the fresh and dry ingredients: Chop/slice the Welsh onion, garlic, ginger, fresh red chilies, and dried red chilies as indicated in the ‘ingredients’ section. (Pro-tip: Deseed the fresh red chilies and shake out and discard some or all of the seeds from the dried red chilies for a milder dish.)
For the Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry:
- Cook the lamb: Heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the marinated lamb and immediately spread out the pieces in the wok. Cook undisturbed for 30 seconds, then stir-fry for 1 minute or until golden brown and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a fine mesh strainer held above the wok, allowing the excess oil to drip back in. Then tip the lamb into to a clean bowl. Spoon out and discard any gluggy bits from the wok.
- Sauté the aromatics: Heat the oil in the wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the fresh and dried red chilies and stir-fry for another 20-30 seconds.
- Add the shredded Welsh onion. Add the Welsh onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds to combine.
- Add the lamb and sauce. Add the lamb and all the juices in the bowl back into the wok and pour the sauce over everything. Stir-fry for 1 minute or so, until the sauce thickens and coats everything well. Switch off the heat.
- To Serve: Transfer to a serving plate/dish. Sprinkle with toasted white sesame seeds and chopped spring onion and serve immediately with warm steamed rice.
- Lamb cut and weight: I started with 416 grams /14.6 ounces lamb tenderloins (fillets) but after trimming the fat and slicing the meat, the final weight was 365 grams / 13 ounces. Although this is a leaner cut of lamb with less fat and sinew, the final weight will go down after trimming just like with other lamb cuts. It’s best to start with at least 400 grams / 14 ounces of lamb tenderloins for this recipe. Anywhere between 365-385 grams / 12.8-13 ounces for the final weight will work well. Lamb tenderloin or backstrap is best for this recipe as it leaner and tender, easier to clean and slice, and quicker to cook than other lamb cuts.
- Chinkiang vinegar and Asian sauces: Chinkiang vinegar is a Chinese black vinegar with a deep and savory tangy flavor and sweet undertones. Substitute with half distilled white vinegar and half balsamic vinegar to yield a similar flavor. Dark soy sauce is used for color mainly and can be substitute with more low sodium light soy sauce. Shao Xing rice wine is a Chinese cooking wine with a floral aroma. Substitute with dry sherry if unavailable. The sauces used in this recipe can be found in your local Asian supermarket. Shao Xing rice wine, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce can also be found in supermarkets that are well-stocked with international ingredients.
- Welsh Onion: This is a type of large green onion that is similar in appearance to Western leeks. It’s also known as Tokyo or Japanese negi, bunching onion, green onion, and spring onion. Look for it an Asian supermarket. Substitute with the white part of a Western leek if you can’t find it.
- Dried Red Chilies: Use any type of medium to hot Chinese or Thai dried chilies. Adjust the quantity based on your heat level preference and the spice level of the dried chilies. Thai Jinda dried chilies, which is what I used here, are quite spicy. Since Thai dried chilies tend to be hotter than most Chinese dried chilies, you’ll likely need to use less. Omit completely for a milder dish.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 288
- Sugar: 6g
- Sodium: 451.4mg
- Fat: 17.2g
- Saturated Fat: 3.3g
- Unsaturated Fat: 11.6g
- Trans Fat: 0.1g
- Carbohydrates: 13.6g
- Fiber: 1.8g
- Protein: 22.1g
- Cholesterol: 60.3mg
Keywords: mongolian lamb, mongolian lamb stir-fry, Chinese lamb stir-fry
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